A GIFT FROM TRAUMA

Joy

I was five years old standing in a room full of weeping adults. My mother, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, great grandparents were all sobbing. It scared me to see my beloved relatives in such terrible grief.

I tugged on my aunt’s sleeve. “Why is everyone crying?” I asked.

“Oh, honey,“ She said softly reaching out for my hand. “We just found out that your Daddy died in the hospital.”

Two soldiers had come to the house with the terrible news. It was 1942, the beginning of World War II. Daddy was an Army doctor. He had been on the way to care for Japanese Americans who were being rounded up and sent to a camp in Texas in the fear-driven reaction to Pearl Harbor.  When Daddy discovered that he had gotten on the wrong train, he tried to jump off it as it left the station.  He fell under the wheels and died.

Five days before his death he had taken me to his army hospital to consult with his colleagues about my tummy ache. It turned into a totally unanticipated appendectomy. Mother was still at home doing the laundry. This sudden operation, our move to Indianapolis while he volunteered for wartime duty, his death, my mother’s disappearance into her grief and shock led to a lifetime of self-examination on my part.

I had healed so much that I thought there was no more information—no more to be learned. However, this memory of being in that room of devastated adults was new to me. It came in a Getting Present Process (p.155 of The Four Principles book. https://www.TheFourPrinciples.com ) during my latest Creative Explosion. One of the participants, who has repeated this two-day workshop many times over the years, was my “Compassionate Witness.” Initially, when she asked the question: What sensation are you experiencing in your body right now, I felt incredible joy in my heart.

Then this vivid memory of that room of devastated adults emerged suddenly from my subconscious.  I felt as if I were 5 years old desperately wanting to say or do something that would be comforting to them. But, at that young age, I had no skills or understanding to draw on.  But, oh, how I wanted to help them somehow. I couldn’t and didn’t.

As I experienced this during the Getting Present Process, I realized, as an adult, that this deep yearning to help my relatives became the seed that years later has flowered into my teaching and these workshops. In a way, I am now fulfilling that heartfelt desire of my five-year-old self. From that trauma came the gift and my joy.

How often something like that happens to people: a woman becomes a grief therapist after the death of her own child. Rape victims offer comfort and help to other rape victims. Cancer survivors support other people facing cancer.  These are not easy gifts, but when we do realize them and offer what we have learned to others, they become a source of our own happiness.

Join me for The Creative Explosion Workshop Sat and Sun 1 to 6 pm August 13 & 14

To purchase The Four Principles and The Four Keys to Authentic Acting books and for more information about the workshops: https://www.EKatherineKerr.com

 

 

CRAZY COMMITMENTS

9390288-Cartoon-astronaout-on-the-moon-with-an-American-flag-Stock-VectorThose Put-a-Man-on-the-Moon commitments sound insane at first. On a lesser scale I’ve launched myself into what seemed like Crazy Commitments, but given enough planning and support they have worked miraculously. I have noticed that the ones that are connected to my heart and are in my best interest seem to pull me along on their own momentum once I make the commitment—once I step up to the plate and start the process.

Committing to a life as a professional actress in my mid twenties with no connections and little experience was one of those. “Insane,” my mind said. But what a wonderful career I have had.

Buying a Roadtrek camper van and going around the US by myself at 73 years old was another one—especially as I knew nothing about camping or camper vans when I began. “Insane,” my mind said. But it was a healing, reviving, memorable three month adventure.

Going to Sarasota by myself last winter knowing no one and ending up buying a small villa was another. “Insane,” my mind said. But, I made fabulous friends and found a perfect place for me.

Now, it seems I may be launching into another CC. I came back to CT with every intention to sell the house. I was convinced that my life was over here. But as I went through a massive clean out and “staged” my house, something startling happened. It was as if some mysterious energy began replenishing the house and my life here. My friendships deepened and my workshops in August filled up. Strangely, the house has not sold, so as the months have passed, my heart gets louder. “Find a way to keep the house!” it whispers insistently in my ear.

So, to my utter astonishment, that is what I am doing! I’m researching reverse mortgages to buy out my ex-husband’s half. I am looking into refurnishing the large, private downstairs area to make it suitable for someone to share the house and my expenses.

“Wait a minute,” my mind says rudely awakening me at 3 am. “At your age and with your limited income, you’re going to buy another house having just bought one just months ago?!!!!!” I wake up sweating. “Truly insane,” my fear declares firmly and convincingly.

So in the morning I reread a quote from W. H. Murray that I often use in my workshops: There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen events, meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way.

And as I look back, that has been clearly true. There were many miracles once I took steps and kept moving forward. And, like getting the man to the moon, it took intense and careful planning. One doesn’t just launch oneself at the moon without a plan. Still, the paths to completion have been zig zaggy which required me to always be both committed and flexible by keeping my options open until the way was clear.

Nevertheless, each one brought up a lot of fear and stress. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon said, “Stress primarily comes from not taking action on something that you can have control over. I find as soon as I can identify it, and make the first phone call, or send off the first email, it dramatically reduces any stress that might come from it.”

Steve Jobs recommended meditation to handle stress. Here’s how I combine the two:

  1. I meditate and get present in the morning. That helps me to get clear about what little steps I can take that day (and I try to break it down into very little steps).
  2. I make some of those scary phone calls and write some of those scary emails.
  3. When I have done what I can do, I let go, turn it over to the Big Whatever and do something fun or relaxing. Sometimes I meditate again to clear my head.

That seems to work to keep me afloat in the river of energy that sweeps me along these CC’s. I’m scared a lot, and this may strike people as odd, but what brings up the wildest fear/excitement are the amazing miracles that show up to support my crazy commitments. And W. H. Murray is right. They have shown up.

So. Yeehaw! Here I go! That river current is sweeping me along. We’ll see what happens.

P.S. Because of all the upheaval, the next CREATIVE EXPLOSION workshop has been postponed until Saturday and Sunday October 3 & 4…go to www.TheFourPrinciples.com for more information.

DON’T BE A BOOB! GET SUPPORT!

BraSo, you have driven your vehicle (hopefully not a motorcycle) through The Fear Car Wash, and you’re on the road to follow your dream, right? Or have you stopped to get a Big Mac and a shake, and then taken a nap on the beach?

It’s so easy to slip into unconsciousness or indifference or a kind of lassitude. “Yeah, I know what I want. I’ve faced my fear about it, but I’ll get started tomorrow,” you say Scarlett O’Hara-like while you’re playing Spider Solitaire.

What happened?

I’ll tell you what happened.

You did not get support.

Once you face the truth and the fear about what you want, you’d better get support, because every step you take towards something that looks difficult or challenging or overwhelming will bring up fear again and again. And fear will, as it loves to do, disguise itself. It will become tiredness, indifference, amnesia, distractions, confusion, conflicts, indecision, and addictions—oh the list is long and insidious.

Depending upon how long you go without taking action toward your dreams and goals is how much fear you will have to face to get started again. So, if you have to go through the big Fear Car Wash again, this time, make sure you have lined up the kind of support you need to greet you on the other side.

What kinds of support are there?

1. God is a good one. God? Who? Like me, you may not even understand what that means, but you don’t need to. Surely you have known times when you are calm and still and willing to listen. At those times, some Guide, some Wise Self or Higher Consciousness emerges to guide you to truth and the right action. So, meditate. Get some kind of spiritual practice: yoga, walking, praying, anything that helps you go within and listen to your Higher Self.

2. Get Present with a Compassionate Witness. (See my book, The Four Principles.) Okay. I do have to say that this technique is one of the most powerful ways in which I get clear and access the kind of wisdom that I cannot seem to find in my normal, conscious mind. It’s always surprising. (Side note: While writing this, a friend called on the phone to “Get Present.” It was fast, easy, and the guidance she received completely surprised her.) I don’t know where else you can find this except in my Creative Explosion Workshops, so feel free to enroll in the next one in July. (See sidebar.)

3. Support Groups. Go to any support group that feels right to you. There are masses of them out there. The Twelve Step Programs are, of course, beautifully effective, free, and there’s practically one for every need. Not being formerly acquainted with them, I have discovered Underearners Anonymous which is not just about making more money. It’s about getting out of hiding in one’s lovely, safe cave.

If you can’t find a support group that suits your needs, create your own. I created my own writing support group which has been meeting for about two years now. Four of us. The other three fantastic women are highly committed, intelligent and inspiring. I don’t know how I would tackle a writing project I’m doing without them.

4. Therapy. Find a good therapist. I had a great one, and can still call her as needed.

5. Teachers and Counselors. Find a teacher, sponsor, mentor, or coach. “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

6. Experts. You cannot know everything, so you’re going to need contractors, electricians, plumbers, editors, agents, printers, lawyers, etc.

7. Friends. Notice I list them last because friends will be there for you when you need someone to play with, cry with, celebrate with, laugh with, hang out with—when you’re sick, need help, are down and out, need them to take care of your dog, but they may not be the best resource to push you beyond the limits you have set for yourself—unless you set a more formal structure with them for that purpose.

The point is: GET SUPPORT! You are 100 percent responsible for your commitment, and you CANNOT do it alone! We can’t climb mountains solo without the clothing and equipment someone else made. My favorite Oscar speech was Maureen Stapleton saying, “…and I want to thank everyone I ever met in my entire life.” Sounds funny, but she was onto something. We are not as independent as we think. Face it. We humans are a totally interdependent species.

But, we do have to be responsible for our commitments. Nobody can support us if we don’t know what we want. Those of us who live in a relatively free world can either succeed or fail. We can either make a mess of our lives or live gloriously. Voltaire said that freedom can’t be achieved without being responsible; otherwise freedom turns to chaos. Being responsible means being clear about one’s commitments, and getting the support to carry them out.

You may not have a vision yet, but if you look at your life, you probably have a goal or two you haven’t achieved. Get support. And then, get more support. With enough you can achieve anything. You can be president if you get enough votes. You can lose the weight, write the book, go to the audition, sing your song, speak in front of crowds, find a lover, and change the world if that’s what your heart desires—if you have enough support.

Here’s the catch. The only way you are going to get support is by using one of The Four Principles. And the principle is……. Come on. Which of the Four Principles will you have to use?

That’s right! COMMUNICATION! In fact, support is all about COMMUNICATION. So, pick up the phone or put your fingers on the keyboard and start asking for help.